Battling the terror of breast cancer is much like swimming upstream: you constantly feel the stresses pushing against your progress. It might seem easier to stop believing or lose hope. However, the Sauk Centre Girls Swim Team made it their personal mission to instill faith in breast cancer victims by hosting their fundraiser for NBCF.
Three years ago, Swim Team Coach James Schreiner’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. “The girls wanted to do something to raise awareness and honor her fight,” James said. “They call her ‘swim mom’ so needless to say my wife was very touched.” James’ wife wasn’t the only woman they honored. The Sauk Swim Team sought out other survivors in the community and recognized each during the meet. Each woman is called upon to stand up, and they each are presented a pink rose to honor their battle with breast cancer. “It is honestly one amazing night,” James recalls.
The Sauk Centre Girls Swim Team has made the event bigger and better in the last three years. Their biggest sell is the pink ribbons which are donated and printed for them by the local newspaper. People who donate get to write their name on the ribbon, and hundreds of them are then hung outside the entrance to the fan’s balcony on the day of the swim meet. Pink swim caps and pink t-shirts are worn all over the natatorium show pride and support. To top it all off, they have a “chuck-a-duck” contest. Advertised all throughout the school, the contest requires you to pay an entry fee to throw one of the rubber ducks into a buoy in the pool. “The winner gets 50% and NBCF receives the other 50%, but without fail, the winner always donates their prize as well,” James notes.
Coach James insists the night is more than just about raising money for awareness. It is also about being able to “teach the girls a lesson that will last way beyond their years in the water and their years in school.” This past year, the team was able to raise over $6,500 in just one swim meet! Furthermore, they were able to give honor to many women of their community who have been affected by breast cancer. The Sauk Centre girls are already excited about this year as they give more women hope to tread breast cancer’s tough waters.
Want to help? Get involved with NBCF by starting your own fundraiser!
The shocking news that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer is just the beginning of the long road to recovery. A road full of potholes, detours, and traffic jams that make the journey seem never-ending. But what if you had an entire team of women surrounding you as you navigated the road ahead? CONGA and the Women Who Ride are that team.
CONGA began in 2008 with one woman, a motorcycle, and 3,300 miles of open road. Flo Fuhr had recently purchased a motorcycle in Florida and was on her way back home to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As she began her journey, she encountered various women who donated a warm meal or a place to sleep. Some even joined her on a motorcycle, and it wasn’t before long that there was a conga line of motorcycles headed across the states. This parade of women was quickly recognized in each town as they passed through cities across the U.S. People would stop and ask them about their ride, and it was then that Flo had her brilliant idea: to ride for a cause. The man who taught Flo to ride as well as her sister had passed away from cancer, and through those losses, Flo recognized the importance of early detection in saving lives. So, during the last leg of her trip, she decided to dedicate her ride to breast cancer, raise awareness and donations, and to fight back through promoting early detection and research.
The ladies, excited about this idea, dressed themselves in pink and drove on. With their fun, positive attitude, pink costumes, boas, stickers, and helmets, it became almost impossible to not notice these amazing women. Their pit stops became opportunities to share their story, and the donations started flowing.
The first year was a success, with over $1,700 raised in a few short days. The decision to keep the conga line moving was an easy one, and CONGA II in 2009 raised $12,000. Since then, CONGA reconvenes each year where women and men ride to “kick cancer to the curb”. 2014 marked the seventh year of CONGA. In just the past two years, CONGA - Women Who Ride raised over $27,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation! That is more than 270 mammograms provided for women in need who otherwise may not have access to mammograms. It is thanks to the fearless women and men of CONGA that a new empowering road is being paved: One of hope and strength.
For more information on CONGA and how you can get involved, please visit: http://gowitheflo.org or Conga’s Fundraising Page.